Local Rhythms – CRB May Put Pandora In A Box

With Apple’s introduction of the iTunes App Store, there came a whole range of things to do with the iPhone and iPod Touch besides phone calls, music and movies.

Like Internet radio – the über gadget twins aren’t the first to offer Pandora, a leader in the emerging field of personalized stations.  But these digital concierges, dedicated to finding songs that match your musical tastes, come equipped with a seamless link to iTunes, the most popular online music store in the world.

It’s the perfect scenario – create a Katy Perry station that leads you to the new Missy Higgins tune, push a button and presto! You’ve purchased the song.

The record companies must love this, right?

Uh, not so much; rather than see it as an obvious promotional bonanza, opening new markets and providing a feedback loop to help them find the next generation of entertainers, the industry seems hell-bent on killing Internet radio.

Pandora could be the first casualty.

In March 2007, I wrote about the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), a government tool of organizations like the RIAA, and its decision to impose usurious fees on Net radio stations – up to 70 percent of total revenue in most cases.

A year or so later, Pandora founder Tim Westgarten has told the Washington Post that he’s close to “pulling the plug.”

“We’re funded by venture capital,” Westgarten said Monday.  “They’re not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken. So if it doesn’t feel like its headed towards a solution, we’re done.”

This mess began back in 1995, when lobbyists paid Congress to redefine copyright law to their liking.  What used to balance the interests of copyright owners, users and the public – laws collectively known as “801b” – became, says RAIN’s Kurt Hanson, “something nearly impossible to interpret or quantify.”

It led to last year’s stalled (but not yet dead) PERFORM Act. Which opened the door to the CRB’s decision to effectively end a promising technology before it really began.

Here’s the kicker – Senator Feinstein, who co-wrote the PERFORM Act, doesn’t even know what 801b is.  Yet she’s willing to let the industry define “fair market value” any way it sees fit.

I am so sick of these Luddites, and their handmaidens in Washington, ruining the future of music.  Pandora, formally known as the Music Genome Project, is more than a radio station.

Sadly, its fate is being determined by much less than a government of, by and for the people.

How about some live music?

Thursday: Jeff Warner, Lebanon Farmer’s Market – Warner is a New Hampshire singer/guitarist who recreates the 19th century in music – North Carolina Outer Banks fishing villages, Adirondack lumber camps and New England whaling ports.  If the new millennium is bringing you down, this may be the perfect remedy.  Hearing these songs wafting through stall selling locally grown produce and freshly baked bread helps, too.

Friday: Hitchelfit, Electra – Alt-metal music from this Lebanon band, with a healthy dose of tunes from the likes of 3 Days Grace, Stone Temple Pilots, Finger Eleven and other modern groups.  It’s been a long time since Hitchelfit played Electra – 10 months to be exact, so this should be an energized night. Check this West Leb nightspot’s calendar for some good local talent that’s stopping by in the coming months.

Saturday: Sirsy, Salt hill Pub – One of my favorite New York imports returns to the area.  If you haven’t seen them, Sirsy is a two-person band that plays like five.  Lead singer/drummer an flutist Melanie Krahmer belts it out like there’s an amp wired inside her chest, and guitarist Rich Libutti doesn’t just ride along – he drives the action, too.  Sirsy packs Sh every time they’re in town.

Sunday: Joey Leone Trio, Outback –
A guitar virtuoso with a summer residency in Killington.  Leone’s “Chop Shop” (with a massive collection of guitars) appears Fridays, while the stripped-down (but no less rockin’) trio holds forth on Sundays.  Blues dominates, along with reinterpretations of Great American Songbook standards like “Misty” and “Over the Rainbow.”  But the focus is always Joey’s amazing chops – no pun intended.

Tuesday: Robert Cray w/ Keb’ Mo’, Shelburne Museum –
Two masters of the American blues idiom perform with their bands and share the stage.  There’s some excellent YouTube footage of the two singing “Bring It On Home,” with Cray’s electric guitar out front, and “Shave Yo’ Legs” – on the latter, Mo’s easygoing singing is a joy to hear and behold.

Wednesday: Fred Haas & Sabrina Brown, Elixir – Expect a different theme each week for this “Jazz Show and Jam Session”  – Ellington, Ella, Gershwin, Mercer ad everything in between. The husband/wife team – he plays sax and piano, she sings – will invite friends to the series (which runs through November) to re-create a New York supper club vibe in downtown White River Junction.

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One thought on “Local Rhythms – CRB May Put Pandora In A Box

  1. I’m with you on the CRB. What’s being done to Pandora and similar services is inexplicable, unreasonable, and unforgivable. They should be doing everything they can to keep Pandora in business. If Pandora looked like they were going to go out of business, it would be a smart long term decision to start paying them just so that they’d keep spreading the word about lesser known artists.

    Unfortunately the big boys in the music industry aren’t that farsighted.

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